Honor. It’s a powerful word. Along with the word, we all have an immediate thought that pops into our minds based on our life experiences. It’s a word that gets tossed around often and it carries with it many different meanings.
Growing up, religious or not, a familiar phrase that most of us have heard in a heated moment with at least one of our parents – “Honor your father and mother”. Every May or June, watch for the Hallmark commercials. They’ll be encouraging us to honor the graduates. Or when you graduate with Honors…now that’s a big one. Don’t forget the Fourth of July and Memorial Day when we remember and honor those who have served in the military. This one we all like and have heard at our own wedding or those we’ve attended – that the bride and groom, “love, honor and cherish” each other. And, in the end, we all want to honor our loved ones who have gone before us.
The Bible talks a great deal about honor. As Christ followers we’re not only encouraged to honor each other, we are “called” to honor each other; it is a “demand” we see in I Corinthians 13 that is the opposite of being rude. We are to be the kind of person that will put others before ourselves, looking for opportunities to make life easier for those we come in contact with, all in an effort to become more selfless every day. Romans 12:10 NIV says, “Honor one another above yourselves.” The Message version of the same passage reads, “Practice playing second fiddle.” That’s a whole new perspective.
In our society, playing second fiddle comes across as a supporting or minor role…one that you would seemingly tire of. To be less important or weaker in an inferior position. To play second fiddle to your sister. To play second fiddle in a relationship as if you’re the second choice…the backup plan.
Leonard Berstein, the late conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, was once asked to name the most difficult instrument to play. Without hesitation, he replied: “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem; and if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony. In truth, if I spent more time second fiddling then my community would probably produce better music anyway.”
Second fiddle. Second chair. No spotlight. Doesn’t seem like you get much glory from that location. And that may be the main point. It seems that most of the time when we get placed in that lumpy, uncomfortable, second chair, we’d much rather be in the first.
But, what if all of us who claim to be Christ-followers decided to be more intentional in this area of honoring others? What if we were content being in the second chair…with enthusiasm and a smile on our face!? Putting others first above ourselves in everyday life. I bet like the Orchestra, we’d have a lot more harmony and our community would hear the most beautiful music ever.